The City Manager and City Commission have identified the development of a Strategic Plan for the City of Lawrence as a key priority. A Strategic Plan is a document that outlines a systematic process for moving toward a vision in a manner that involves the development and prioritization of strategic goals along with measurable strategies and objectives. The city does not currently have a Strategic Plan.

The planning process is expected to conclude in March 2017, ahead of the 2018 budget deliberations.

The City Commission will discuss the Strategic Plan and priority initiatives at the meeting March 7, 2017 at 5:45 at City Hall in the City Commission Room.

Why is a strategic plan necessary?

The city regularly uses planning tools like the Comprehensive Plan to guide the city’s growth in housing, transportation and land use. A Strategic Plan, when combined with other planning documents and community feedback, sets a clear path for moving a community forward. If the Strategic Plan is used accordingly, the plan will drive the budget discussions each year and ensure that projects, programs and services are aligned with the Strategic Plan’s set goals and outcomes. Once the Strategic Plan is complete, a comprehensive set of performance measures can be developed which ensures public funds are being used to meet community goals and priorities. Get involved with the Strategic Planning process to help set our vision and goals for the future!

Strategic Planning Retreat

The Mayor, City Commissioners, City Manager and senior city staff members participated in a two-day Strategic Planning Retreat on January 13th and 14th to establish a framework for the City’s Strategic Plan. The retreat was held at the Bioscience and Technology Business Center on the University of Kansas west campus and was facilitated by Julia Novak and Michelle Ferguson of The Novak Consulting Group. The proposed framework includes a Vision Statement and seven Critical Success Factors that are essential to achieving that vision in the future.

Lawrence residents and city employees, thank you for your input at the public meetings and online. Comments and input will be shared with the City Commission at the next Strategic Planning Retreat that will be held on Monday, February 20th from 9 AM to 3 PM at the Bioscience and Technology Business Center.

Sign up for news about the Strategic Plan Process to get the latest info on how to be involved. The city will post documents and information at this web page.

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Strategic Plan flow

Frequently Asked Questions


A strategic plan helps answer three (3) basic questions:

  1. What do we know to be true today?
  2. Where do we want to be in the future?
  3. How can we get there?

Staff, along with the consultants, answered the first question; what do we know to be true today, through the creation of the environmental scan. The report includes numerous community characteristics as well as city trends.

The City Commission and staff helped answer the second question; where do we want to be in the future, through a retreat. At the retreat, the City Commission created the strategic planning framework which consisted of seven (7) critical success factors. To gather public input on the framework, the consultants held two public meeting and had an online survey.

The City Commission and staff helped answer the final question; how can we get there, during the second retreat. The City Commissioners provided specific projects that will help the city move from where the City is today to where the City wants to be in the future using the framework and public input.

The need for a strategic plan was identified by the City Commission as a priority during the hiring process of the City Manager in early 2016. A consultant was brought in to help facilitate the creation of a strategic plan.

The Novak Consulting Group met with staff and elected officials individually and through multiple retreat dates. They also facilitated public input sessions to discuss the framework. Through this process, a framework, with seven (7) critical success factors, was developed as were eight (8) new initiatives.

The seven (7) critical success factors serve as a guidepost for City staff. These are the areas that the City will focus on to achieve the following vision for Lawrence:

The City of Lawrence—supporting an unmistakably vibrant community with innovative, equitable, transparent and responsible local government.

The seven Critical Success Factors are:

  1. Effective Governance and Professional Administration
  2. Safe, Healthy & Welcoming Neighborhoods
  3. Innovative Infrastructure & Asset Management
  4. Commitment to Core Services
  5. Sound Fiscal Stewardship
  6. Collaborative Solutions

Economic Growth & Security

At the final retreat, the City Commission came up with numerous initiatives, or projects, that they wanted to see in Lawrence over the next two years. After much discussion and a selection process, eight (8) initiatives were chosen.

  1. Inventory and evaluate the role of existing advisory boards and commissions and identify opportunities to consolidate or sunset as appropriate.
  2. Review the city’s processes for ongoing professional development and align efforts to achieve excellence amid the commission’s priorities.
  3. Identify barriers to having high-speed fiber throughout Lawrence and facilitate development of the necessary infrastructure by the private sector.
  4. Review the Ninth Street plans and develop a proposal to complete the road infrastructure and determine ability to add creative and artistic elements.
  5. Develop a city facilities master plan and comprehensive facility maintenance plan.
  6. Develop a plan to implement priority-based budgeting.
  7. Develop and communicate the city’s long-term financial strategy.
  8. Develop a master plan for downtown that includes desirable assets, infrastructure and uses.

These initiatives are projects that the City will focus on over the next few years. This does not mean that the City will cease work on current projects; the initiatives will be in addition to current projects.

During the 2017 budget process six (6) general goal areas were identified. Those goals are encompassed in the seven (7) critical success factors.
The strategic plan is meant to be used as a short-term (2 year) plan with specific initiatives that help move the City towards achieving the vision for Lawrence. The comprehensive plan is a long-range planning tool that identifies the community’s goals for directing future land use decisions.
Yes, the strategic plan will be used as a guidepost when making operational and budget decision.
Yes, the strategic plan will be revisited after the next City Commission election. It will then be revisited every two years after the City Commission election.